The Development and Evolution of American Street Gangs And Reasons Behind their Behaviours Essay


Gangs as a spontaneously structured territorial group joined together with a tendency of departing to the path of violence. The manner gang members behave frequently depends on the attributes of a specific gang teenagers are in. Social, economical, and home conditions in the United States are the current primary reasons why gangs are developed. These people believe that as long as they are with their own group, they will not experience injustices. Fortunately, when the expected needs are not met by the gang, most teenagers depart within the initial year.

The Development and Evolution of American Street Gangs

And Reasons Behind their Behaviours


            Normally, gang and gang membership is not considered unlawful, what makes the gang illicit is the violations of law as a consequence of the gang members’ criminal behaviours. Because of the persistent and increasing havoc brought about by several gangs in the recent years, a gang is now universally believed as a faction of individuals that integrate impulsively, and share a general principle of perpetrating an unlawful acts against another or the surrounding neighbourhood. Nevertheless, gangs are believed to be as an end result of social dislocations linked with urban life, including social immobility, poverty, economic isolation and ethnic conflict. Gang members are commonly teenagers, and it is not unusual in the present time to observe and notice a member being part of the gang operations at an even younger age.

Reasons Why American Street Gangs Developed

            The key illustrative indication for the development of gangs in the United States is the observed escalation of social disorganization and violence in the metropolitan communities. During the 1950s and 1960s academic examination seeking to clarify gang development and membership in the country increased (Alonso, n.d., p.658). To describe the development of street gangs, several researchers have highlighted the need to be aware of behavioural attributes of a gang’s individual members and a gang as a group. For instance, the previous practices of housing segregation, racially motivated aggression and police brutality, and the consequences of the 1960s civil rights era that fronted to the killings of numerous local and national activists created a breeding ground for gang formation among Black teenagers in the early 1970s (Alonso, n.d., p.658).

            In addition to racial terrorization, residential and school exclusion, racial segregation from mainstream and extreme marginalization that plays significant roles in early gang development among minority groups, factors such as poverty, population shifts, and deindustrialization are also considered major causes of gang formation that contributed to realization of gang proliferation in the United States today.

The Reasons Behind the Way Gangs Behave

            The coming out of numerous communities of colour in the metropolitan area and arrival of immigrants combined with an invasion of uncomplicated access to weapons and inexpensive narcotics makes the present gang world a dynamic and complex environment. Nonetheless, although it is apparent and accepted fact that gang members do participate in several types of criminal activities, it is not an accurate judgement that every gang members are detected with anti-social and defiant behaviour (Hammond, n.d., p.5). The manner gang members behave frequently depends on the attributes of a specific gang they are in.

            Basically, every aspiring gang members in order to be totally accepted by the group are obliged to commence themselves to carry, behave and dress up according to the approach of their aspired gang. Yet the root cause of overcrowding in areas where housing conditions are low and where teenagers receives very small or no management at all is the major basis behind the gang members manner of behaviour. The inequity stocks up within the affected teenagers and determination to rise up or rebel against the society would eventually ensue on them. Once being exposed against prejudices, gang members might turn around and repeatedly put up with the injustices on someone else.

The Impact of Poverty on Gang Development

            Because of poverty there are an enormous number of families in the United States which both parents practically never stays at home. Since these parents lack education and vocational skills they are forced to accept physically demanding occupations at a minimum wage. To afford adequate support for their children, they end up placing in overtime work, on weekends and even every evening. Struggling to get hold of warm outfits for the cold rainy and winter days, adequate provisions on the dinner table, and a refuge over their head, these unfortunate parents have not apportioned enough time for looking after their children, and as a result parental monitoring for their children is shifted over to other older individuals. In due course, the deprived and unsupervised children may be lured with several flashy items and hard cash by running a few odd jobs which are in fact a front for the distribution of several prohibited products of gangs. But because of the incentives the child derives satisfaction from his acts, and the child may even reason to himself that being an element of this type of activity, having power, privilege, goods and money is extremely better than being an average child, having nothing but depression, anguish and poverty. The blameless youngster finds himself eventually as a member of a gang who can no longer execute his individual resolution. Thus, for under privilege children, a gang is believed to be as their lone mean to climb out of their unfortunate fate.

Causes of Gang Membership

The precise explanations for joining gangs have changed throughout the years, regularly becoming even more multifaceted. Frederic Thrasher’s classic gang study in 1927 speculated gangs as a spontaneously structured territorial group joined together with a tendency of departing to the path of violence (Alonso, n.d., p.658). Presently however, the primary reasons why teenagers join gangs are for material access, safety, as a consequence of peer pressure, status and a valued identity. Moreover, minority teenagers look forward to support, experience, adventure and companionship from their ethnic friends and other underprivileged neighbours who are already members of gangs. Because race is generally reduced to behaviour, culture and poverty, race finds justifications for the higher rates of gang membership in minority communities. To avert themselves from being discriminated, poor and racial minority teenagers identifies themselves with their own group, and as a consequence their neighbourhood is converted into their territory and their own ethnic friends and neighbours turn into their gang members. These people believe that as long as they are with their own group, they will not experience injustice; and further, considers that they will achieve more contentment than aggravation because of the gang membership. Fortunately though, when the expected needs are not met by gang most teenagers depart within the initial year (Hammond, n.d., p.2).

Today, it is not surprising that not only minority and impoverished teenagers are joining gangs, as children from affluent families are also engaging in gang membership and activities. It is suggested that peer pressure is one of the significant reasons behind this observable fact. Generally speaking, children frequently desire to possess things just like their peers possesses such as luxury cars, big houses, fanciful cloths, unlimited privileges and even gang membership (Le, n.d.). Regrettably, wealthy teenagers grow to be involved in gangs because they are uninformed of other approach that accomplishes the similar desires that joining a gang may allegedly provide them.


            Gangs develop as an outcome of socio-cultural and psychological crisis of teenagers. People usually join gangs in the expectation that they could discover sense of family, guidance, loyalty, money, love, discipline, belonging, recognition and identity. Nevertheless, the social, psychological and emotional needs of street gang members are frequently not rewarded. For this reason, when teenagers join gangs, their lives are instantaneously shifted from family dependence to safety net reliance. Mockingly, the safety net of gangs are not out of harm’s way at all as the lives of these children are at all times in jeopardy and there is a great possibility that they could be detained in the least point in time.


Alonso, A., A. (n.d.). Racialized Identities and the Formation of Black Gangs in Los Angeles. Retrieved October 16, 2008, from

Hammond, C., M. (n.d.). Gang Information 06-07. Newark Public Schools. Retrieved October 17, 2008, from

Le, H., M. (n.d.). Why Kids Join Street Gangs. Vietnam Net. Retrieved October 16, 2008, from